The Portland Pirates’ coaching and training staff traveled to western New York this weekend for the opening of Buffalo Sabres’ rookie camp.

The camp, which is open to players with less than 50 games of National Hockey League experience, opens Monday at HSBC Arena, home of the Pirates’ NHL parent.

Portland Coach Kevin Dineen and assistant coach Eric Weinrich will spend four days of the camp running practice sessions for the Sabres’ coaching staff. Buffalo’s veteran players are scheduled to report Friday.

“(We) will be exposing (Buffalo head coach) Lindy Ruff and his staff to the young players throughout the organization, giving them a three- or four-day look to get comfortable with those young players,” Dineen said. “When you’re sitting there watching them on the ice, I think you get use to somebody’s skating style. Instead of always looking for the name on the back of the jersey, after a couple of days he will have a good feel after seeing them in scrimmages and drills.”

Fifteen of the 37 players attending rookie camp spent time last season with the Pirates, including 2010 AHL Rookie of the Year Tyler Ennis and 2009 Rookie of the Year Nathan Gerbe. Among the 27 Sabres’ draft picks at the camp will be forwards Zach Kassian and defensemen Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, Brayden McNabb and Mark Pysyk.

“Some of (the rookies) will be going back to juniors,” Dineen said. “Not right away, but they will be going back to juniors. Most of those players will stay for a couple of days of NHL camp, too.”

The Pirates are scheduled to open their training camp Sept. 29.

During the early part of the AHL team’s training camp, Dineen will take a look at some ECHL players who will not be participating in this week’s rookie camp.

“The way that has worked in the past, seeing we don’t have an ECHL affiliate, we will wait to hear from few coaches to see if they’re looking for camp spots for some of their players,” he said. “Usually, we start (camp) with 20 players, the time, we get to our second exhibition game will get up to 26 or 27 players.”

Dineen said the AHL team hopes to schedule a preseason exhibition game Sept. 30 at the Portland Ice Arena against the University of New Brunswick.

On Oct. 2, Portland will play the Manchester Monarchs in an exhibition game at the PIA. On Oct. 5, the will travel to Nashua, N.H., to play the Monarchs in another preseason game.

The Pirates will open the regular season Oct. 9 against the Monarchs at the Cumberland County Civic Center.


Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

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